NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

In recent years, researchers have discovered that the initial phase of a new romantic relationship is characterized by new relationship energy (NRE).  NRE refers to that intense passion you experience at the beginning of a romantic relationship, which can be exhilarating and fun (see my article: The 5 Stages of Love From Attraction to Commitment).

Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

NRE occurs during the so-called "honeymoon phase," which typically lasts up to 2-3 years or so.  

This is the phase when you spend a lot of time thinking about and yearning for that person, and when you see each other, you can't keep your hands off each other.

The Brain and New Relationship Energy 
Dr. Nan J. Wise, cognitive neuroscientist, licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist, explores NRE in her book, Why Sex Matters.  

According to Dr. Wise, NRE includes high levels of dopamine flooding the brain.  

Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

Dopamine plays a major role in movement, motivation, perception of reality and the ability to experience love and pleasure. 

High levels of dopamine can make you feel giddy and euphoric when you're around your partner.  

In addition, you usually experience high levels of oxytocin, often referred to as the "cuddle hormone," and vasopressin, which makes you feel emotionally and psychologically attached to your partner.

So, it's no wonder NRE makes this phase of the relationship so intense.

Tips For Keeping the Spark Alive in a Long Term Relationship
As previously mentioned, NRE eventually diminishes.

The chemicals in the brain settle down and, if your relationship endures past this phase, your feelings for each other often mature into a deeper kind of love.

Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

While it's normal for NRE to wane after a while, many couples want to know how to keep the romantic and sexual spark alive in their relationship.

Here are some tips:
  • Keep Joy Alive: The ability to experience joy together is important, especially for a long term relationship that will, inevitably, go through ups and downs.  The ability to laugh together is important to maintaining the vitality in your relationship.  In addition, finding new and novel ways to be with each other can also keep the joy alive.  This could include you and your partner being more playful with each other and exploring new fantasies.
  • Engage in Open Communication: Being able to give and receive feedback openly is important to keeping the spark alive.  This means being open to hearing feedback which might not always be positive without getting defensive as well as your ability to talk openly and tactfully with your partner about how you feel about all aspects of your relationship, including sex (see my articles: How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).
  • Be Open to New Experiences: Whether this means exploring new interests, ideas or places or finding new and exciting ways to be sexual, being open to new experiences helps to keep the spark alive in your relationship (see my article: Being Open to New Experiences).
  • Be Your Own Person: Rather than merging together, find that balance between being your own person and being part of your relationship.  Maintain your own identity and interests as well as those you share with your partner.  Learn to compromise about time together and time apart.  Not only will being your own person allow you each to grow as individuals, but you'll both have something unique to bring to your relationship.  
  • Be Generous: It's easy to take one another for granted, especially in a long term relationship, so it's important to show your appreciation and to be kind and emotionally generous.  Instead of keeping score, pick your battles and know when to overlook certain things that aren't important in the long run.  Know your partner's love maps and talk about your own.
Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point.  

If you have been unable to resolve your problems on your own, you could benefit from working with a licensed psychotherapist.

A skilled therapist can help you to develop the tools and skills you need to live a more fulfilling life.

So rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who has the expertise and experience to help you.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.